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The Quick Brown Fox's Untold Stories Part II: Triple B and the Great Taste Dynasty

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Ricardo Brown did end up as the most outstanding newcomer and won the Rookie of the Year award in 1983, but Great Taste wound up as a bridesmaid in two import-laced conferences to the legendary Crispa Redmanizers in that same season. But the Discoverers showed a lot of promise. With Brown instantly becoming one of the team’s lethal weapons, he joined certified superstar Bogs Adornado and steady import Norman Black as the squad's main options on offense.
The Two Bs -- Bogs and Brown. Ricky Brown's Facebook account
"Norman Black at that time could score between 40 to 50 points and Adornado and Brown could score in the 30s on any given night. Those three players could easily combine for 100 points, making them the focal point of the team’s offense," said basketball historian Jay P. Mercado, creative consultant of the PBA’s Greatest Games being shown every day on a cable network. The acquisition of the Triple B (Brown, Bogs and Black) to join holdovers Manny Victorino, Joel Banal, Jimmy Manansala and Ponky Alolor turned an inferior Great Taste team into a legitimate title contender in 1983. Still, the Discoverers couldn't get past the Redmanizers. "Crispa is undoubtedly the greatest ever basketball team," said Adornado, himself a former Redmanizer and part of the 1976 Grand Slam team. "And they had the best import who ever played in the PBA at that time, Billy Ray Bates." "But we became a contender, too, and the main reason for that was our inclusion — me, Ricky and Norman. Ricky is the third best-ever guard in the PBA, probably next to Johnny Abarrientos and Hector Calma," added Adornado. Black couldn't lead the Discoverers past the powerhouse Redmanizers, but the two Bs – Bogs and Brown – remained as the team’s focal point on offense. Brown recalled their early struggles and how he and Adornado turned a former league doormat to a contender. "We started from scratch at Great Taste, but had a great nucleus to build on. We were inconsistent at the beginning because we had two new but valuable players, Bogs and myself. We were both used to having the ball a lot on the offensive end, so there was an adjustment period that was necessary for both of us. It didn’t happen overnight, but we were both pros and wanted to win, so some individual sacrifices were made for the good of the team. By the middle of the 1983 2nd Conference, we began to come together as a team and became a championship contender," added Brown. In 1984, the Coffee Makers won two of the three conferences – the second of the two All-Filipino conferences of the season and the import-flavored conference where they had Jeff Collins as their import.

The one thing that sticks out to me was in 1984 with Great Taste when Jimmy Mariano was ‘relieved’ of his job as head coach for muttering to the media after a losing a game to lower level team, Galerie Dominique, we didn’t intend to win the game.
Ricardo Brown, 1985 PBA MVP
With archrival Toyota already gone, Crispa reasserted its dominance in the PBA. The Redmanizers were able to cruise their way to the championship of the First All-Filipino conference by beating Gilbey's Gin, 4-1. But 1984 proved to be the year of the Coffee Makers. Two more key additions were made – Arnie Tuadles and Chito Loyzaga – who were picked up from the defunct Toyota team. "I think those two players were the key additions," said Mercado. "They played with Bogs, Ricky, Manny Victorino, Joy Carpio, Joel Banal, Jimmy Manansala, Ponky Alolor, Frankie Lim and Woodrow Balani," added Mercado. In the second conference, the Coffee Makers were able to stamp their class and managed to sweep Beer Hausen in the finals, 3-0. The Brew Masters were bannered by the best basketball player in the land at the time – Mon Fernandez, who won his second Most Valuable Player award in three years and was averaging close to a triple-double (27 points, 15 rebounds and 9.9 assists), according to Mercado). But even El Presidente and his elegant shots proved to be no match for the emerging power that was the Coffee Makers, who appointed Baby Dalupan as their coach after former coach Jimmy Mariano made a controversial post-game interview comment. Brown recalled a few controversial things that happened in his career, and Mariano's comment was the one which stuck in his mind. "The one thing that sticks out for me was in 1984 with Great Taste when Jimmy Mariano was 'relieved' of his job as head coach for muttering to the media after a losing a game to lower level team, Galerie Dominique, '"We didn’t intend to win the game,"' recalled Brown. "I do not understand why Jimmy made this comment to the media, but I definitely know for a fact that he was not the one who orchestrated that 'defeat’. Unfortunately for him, Jimmy was the one who took the hit for someone else and it cost him dearly. I wish I could see that game again on tape. I remember I was substituted in and out of that game like a pawn on a chessboard, wondering what the heck was going on. I was having a great game, hitting my shots, making plays, and then all of a sudden I’m pulled out for no reason. It didn’t take me long to realize that something rotten was going on and I was not happy about it," he added. "I used to hear rumors about potential game-fixing and shaving points, but I never paid much attention to it because as far as I was concerned they were unfounded and only hearsay. One prominent PBA official told me once that most of these rumors come from gamblers who lose money and are looking for someone to blame."
Import Joe Binion (holding the trophy) and Chito Loyzaga (right) are some of the key additions made by Great Taste in 1984-85. Ricky Brown Facebook account.
In the season-ending, import-laced conference, the Coffee Makers finally got some sort of vengeance against the Redmanizers. With import Jeff Collins outplaying Carlton Willis and the locals establishing chemistry and playing with more maturity, Great Taste overpowered Crispa in five games. The season saw the end of the chapter of a fabled team which had dominated the league for the first 10 seasons and won a total of what was then a league-best 13 championships, including two Grand Slam titles. For Brown and Great Taste, they were just starting over. The Coffee Makers were able to defeat Magnolia, featuring their former import, Norman Black and several holdovers of the old San Miguel team, in six games of the best-of-seven series in the 1985 Open Conference. Great Taste was then reinforced by Joe Binion. In the All-Filipino, the Coffee Makers met familiar faces now playing for a squad that had acquired the franchise of the legendary Redmanizers. Philip Cezar, Bernie Fabiosa, and Bai Cristobal, holdovers of the old Crispa team, were some of the veteran players spearheading the newest member in the league – the Shell Azodrin Bug Busters. But the most familiar player happened to be Adornado, who was unloaded by the already star-studded Coffee Makers squad and picked up by the rookie franchise. He was the Bug Busters' catalyst and best offensive weapon.
Ricky Brown greatest ever player Crispa never had Ricardo Brown of the Crispa Redmanizers? Yes, dear basketball fans, the Quick Brown Fox nearly donned the white and green colors of arguably the best basketball team in the history of the Philippine Basketball Association. It was Brown himself who confirmed this nearly three-decade secret to GMA News. More
Adornado and the rest of the former Redmanizers did outlast Ginebra in a pulsating knockout game in the semifinals and earned the right to face the Coffee Makers led by Brown, who was then having an MVP season. The Coffee Makers quickly flexed their muscles on all fronts, winning the first two games, and were looking to bring out the broom against the Bug Busters coached by Freddie Webb. Playing with pride, Adornado, Cezar and company responded with a sense of urgency. The Bus Busters fought back in the third game and won, 103-102. Brown took charge in Game 4 and propelled the Coffee Makers to victory for the squad’s fourth straight championship. "The 1983-1986 Great Taste teams were different but all very strong basketball teams. We had all of the ingredients of a potential dynasty -- youth, talent, size, leadership, intelligence team chemistry, and depth. Management made some great moves in 1984 and 1985 with the additions of Arnie Tuadles, Chito Loyzaga, Frankie Lim, Abe King, and Willie Pearson. And don’t forget that Baby Dalupan became our head coach in the middle of 1984. While I felt bad about the circumstances that caused Jimmy Mariano to ‘step down’ as head coach, I was very pleased Coach Dalupan would now be calling the shots." So the dynasty was established and next in the radar of the Coffee Makers was a triple crown, a feat the legendary "Maestro" Dalupan was able to achieve in 1976. Great Taste had the tools, blended with youth and experience.
Ricardo Brown receives the 1985 MVP trophy from then PBA commissioner Col. Mariano Yenko. Ricky Brown facebook account.
But the 1985 Third Conference proved to be meant for another squad, and hopes of a Grand Slam simply faded away. Enter the Northern Consolidated Cement Nationals, a team which Brown could have played for had he opt not to join the PBA earlier in 1983. The Nationals, beefed up by naturalized players Dennis Still and Jeff Moore and amateur standouts Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim, Hector Calma, Yves Dignadice, Franz Pumaren and Elmer Reyes, among others, swept the Manila Beer Brewmasters, 4-0, in the best-of-seven series of the Reinforced Conference that season. The squad was handled by American mentor Ron Jacobs, whose team became the second guest squad to win a PBA title. But in 1986, Great Taste was shut out of a title. Tanduay, which a year earlier engineered a stunning trade that sent Mon Fernandez to its squad in place of Abet Guidaben, made its presence felt in the first two conferences. Fernandez formed an unlikely alliance up front alongside JB Yango and Ely Capacio, but the team also had established stars such as Freddie Hubalde, Willie Generalao and a rookie named Onchie dela Cruz. The Rhum Masters' import tandem of Rob Williams and Andrei McCoy helped propel the squad to a 4-2 victory over Brown’s Coffee Makers in the Reinforced Conference. The team continued its surge when it beat Robert Jaworski’s Ginebra squad, 3-1, in the All-Filipino finals. In the season-ending Open Conference, Bates came back with a bang and teamed up with Michael Hackett in leading Ginebra to its first championship. Then, Great Taste made a swift move, a move that surprised Brown. "Now comes the part that will baffle me forever. I will never understand why the 1985-1986 GTC teams were not kept intact, because those were still very experienced, championship-caliber teams. We had won four straight championships and only missed out on the Grand Slam in 1985 because we changed imports in the 3rd conference several times," said Brown. Manny Victorino, Jimmy Manansala and Willie Pearson were unloaded to different teams and Dalupan found himself reunited with his former stars – Cezar and Fabiosa – besides getting a crack at picking Allan Caidic in the 1987 Rookie Draft. "There were six teams back in 1986. Great Taste was set to pick fifth. Shell owned the first pick, and then coach Ed Ocampo wanted Al Solis. Hills Brothers, which owned the No. 2 pick, wanted Caidic. But Great Taste initiated a trade with Shell, sending Manny Victorino and Jimmy Manansala for Cezar and Fabiosa plus its first pick overall, which the Coffee Makers exercised by trading Caidic. Hills Brothers picked Solis, but traded him for Adornado," said Mercado. Pearson also moved to Shell in a separate deal with Great Taste in 1987. So Great Taste became a powerhouse team once more, a veteran-laden squad that made the finals of the first two conferences. In the 1987 Open Conference, the already formidable Coffee Makers selected Michael Young, a top-caliber import who beat Bates for the Best Import Award in the season-ending conference of 1986. They barged their way to the championship round, but were stopped on their tracks by Tanduay, which paraded a gem of an import in former Boston Celtics swingman David Thirdkill. Tanduay defeated Great Taste in five games of the best-of-seven series.
Ricky Brown finds an unlikely ally in former Crispa players Philip Cezar, Atoy Co and Bernie Fabiosa in the 1987 Great Taste All-Filipino champion squad. Ricky Brown's Facebook account.
With a powerhouse local line up, the Coffee Makers swept company rival Hills Brothers, 3-0, in the All-Filipino finals. But Brown left the Coffee Makers at the end of the 1987 season and moved to San Miguel, reportedly due to monetary reasons. "There were several occasions in between 1986 and 1987 when former Great Taste team manager Ignacio Gotao wanted to trade me," said Brown. “Unfortunately for him, I was always in the United States, so negotiations couldn't move, until the end of the 1987 season." With talks of Brown moving to another team getting ripe before the end of the 1987 season, the superstar combo guard wished he could play for a team where he believed he could contribute more. And it was not the talent-laden San Miguel Beer. (To be continued...) - KY, GMA News
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